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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  February 5, 2013 12:00pm-1:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. . >> rose: tom donilon is here, he is the president's national security advisor. part of his job is to prepare and deliver the presidential daily brief on
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national security. joe biden has called him the most important person in the mix this week in the vice president spoke about foreign policy challenges at the munish security conference. >> we have made it clear at the outset that we would not-- we would be prepared to meet bilaterally with the irani leadership. we would not make it a secret that we were doing that. we would let our partners know if that occasion presented itself. that offer stands. nearly all of our partners and allies are convinced that president assad is a tyrant, hell-bent on clinging to power, is no longer fit to lead the syrian people and he must go. >> as well as syria and iran the united states faces new challenges from islammix extremism in african, yet it is not clear they are ready to stand on their own by 2014 when u.s. troops are scheduled to withdraw. and great power politics are on the a lend-- agenda again. china is confident, insertive in the south china sea in relations about
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moskow have cooled. all of this with a troubled economy at home and calls for a lighter footprint abroad. i'm pleased to have tom donilon back at this table. welcome. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: we are now into a second term. what do we mean by lighter footprint? >> well, if we step back on that, at the beginning of 2012, the president after a multimonth review, close consultation with the uniformed military, the joint chief, service secretaries and combatant commanders around the world put together a new defense strategy. that defense strategy had to take into account that the budget control act required the defense budget over ot next ten years to be reduced by $500 million or so, a little less than that. and which would require a 5% decrease over what were the plans. and in doing that the president asked the military to think about what the new challenges were going to be. what were the real challenges we were going to
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face. and that defense strategy was comprehensive. and it had various pieces to it that we would look to agile forces, that we would look to having a global footprint. but with emphasis, reemphasis on asia, continuance on the middle east but innovative partnerships around the world that could involve a lighter footprint in cases, and indeed if you talk to the chief of staff of the army, who served in iraq as you know as our commander there, he would tell you that we are working on innovative partnerships. >> cot lab rattive work. >> so we can pain taken our global footprint, maintain our commitments, but do it in a more efficient and effective way. >> a couple of things. clearly the president said in his west point speech that he understands that you can't have a great global strategic plan without a strong economy at home. >> absolutely. >> in order to be as effective and have the leverage you have you need to have a strong economy at home. that's one thing. the over thing that people say in the first term that the president may have been,
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may have learned a lesson with respect to the surge in afghanistan. and it may have not really wanted to do that but he was convinced by the military to do it and he regrets it. >> well, that's not the case. let me-- let me says that's not true. let me say two or three things about this. first of all, the point you make referencing the president's west point speech where he indicated what is an iron law of history, there aren't a lot of iron laws of history but this is maybe one, which is and i think i'm paraphrasing as you did, that no countries have been able to maintain its military and political privacy in the world without maintaining its economic vitality. absolutely true, has been the focus of our national security policy. and the first term will be the focus of-- and this is, the long analysis we can go too about that but i think it is an iron law of history. second, with respect to afghanistan, the president saw a deteriorating
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situation there. when we reviewed, the situation in afghanistan we came into office we did not think there was a strategy or properly resourced effort in afghanistan. and said about-- set about correcting that. >> this was january 2009. >> exactly. actually in the transition h in 2008. and the key thing here was to focus on the right goal. the goal that the nation needed to achieve and could achieve in afghanistan. and the president decided that the goals were these. and they were quite focused, determined on our interest. one defeating al qaeda and associated groups who threaten the homeland. the group that did 9/11. two, taking steps to ensure that the afghan government could survive and in afghanistan would to the become a safe haven for al qaeda an other groups who would then get operational space and be able to act against the united states. those are the goals we had. it required us to recover what was a deteriorating situation in 2009.
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to act against al qaeda which we have. and we pretty much decimated core al qaeda. the offshoots of al qaeda is something i'm sure we'll discuss during the course of this conversation. but decimated core al qaeda and provide the necessary personnel and training and assets for the afghans to pain taken a modicum of stable going forward. >> rose: maintain a modicum of stable. is a modicum of stable enough? >> yes, what i mean by that is the ability to maintain the sovereignty of their state, and to prevent it from becoming a safe haven for al qaeda again. that's what that mean os. in other words, they're having the assets and the training and the resources going forward to maintain the stability of the state going forward. and to ensure that it doesn't become a safe haven again. the third thing on the broader issue that you raise, with respect to the kinds of forces that we have going forward, we are focused on
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having forces that meet the challenges we're going to have in the future. so in a time of diminished resources, you make choices about what the threats are going forward, and the choice was this. the choices between maintaining these very large, say 100,000 person stability forces that would go in and do things like afghanistan and iraq versus investing in forces like special operations forces, cyber, investing in the kinds of technology going forward. and thats with a choice that was made, frankly n the budget going forward. >> the president promised to withdraw from iraq, de. the president promised to withdraw from january 2014 and he is. but has the mission in afghanistan been successful? >> yeah, well, a couple of points on that. first of all i think you're correct to point out that one of the maj procedure jokts that we undertook in the first term was to change the footprint of the united
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states and the world to. change the face of u.s. foreign policy and national security in the world. to move from an era of war, which we have been in for a number of years, to the next phase in terms of american leadership in the world so yes, the president determined as he said during the campaign in 2008 that we would withdraw from iraq and we have withdrawn from iraq an iran asi asi iraq stands on its own as a sovereign state. the president has said in conjunction with our allies, by the way, at the lisbon nato summit and confirmed at the chicago summit on afghanistan, nato summit, that the united states and the troops would complete the military mission in afghanistan by december 31st, 2014 and we are on track to meet that goal. >> and how many troops will remain after that? that's the question. >> yes, today we have about 67 or 66 or 67,000 troops in afghanistan. >> right. >> the president has said and we will implement this, that there will be a
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reduction in those drops at a steady pace between now and the end of the year, 2014, so that is essentially 23 months from now. and we'll execute on that. the number of troops to remain after december 31, 2014 hasn't been determined at this point. we are in the process -- >> what compactors will determine. >> several. we are in the process of negotiating a bilateral security agreement, that is the terms under which troops may remain in afghanistan after december 31st, 2014 with afghanistan. those negotiations are ongoing and there be certainly requirements including immunities for any troops that might remain. and president karzai addressed that at the white house at their press conference and president karzai's visit, saying he would favor immunity that is the first factor. >> favor. >> immunity, whatever. and we had this all over the world. where every united states troops are serving in a foreign country, we understake an arrangement with that country whereby those forces are able to do their jobs and have immunity
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with respect to the domestic judicial processes. that is the first point. the second point is the mission. and the mission as we are considering it today would have three aspects to it. the first would be counter terrorism, that the united states would have a force in the region in afghanistan that would have the ability to go after al qaeda and associated transnational groups that might threaten the united states, with our very effective high end counterterror efforts, point one. point two, including drones and the like. >> well, all the assets the united states has and counterterrorism and counterterrorism efforts to go after those groups. counterterrorism being number one. number two, training and assisting the afghans going forward that will probably be a multilateral mission. >> right. >> of advising and assisting the afghan troops going forward. and third, whatever support might be needed for our
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civilian operations which will remain in afghanistan. we'll have a state to state relationship in afghanistan. >> it sounds to me you just made the case that is why there will be troops remanning there after the end of 2014. >> it will depend on a couple of things. it will depend on the arrangements with the afghan government. >> which we couldn't in iraq. >> which we did not do in iraq. president karzai has indicated a different view on this publicly when he met with the president and in the east room of the white house when they had the press conference together. that's the first point. the second though is the circumstances. where will we be with respect to our efforts against al qaeda and associated groups by the end of december 31, december 2014. what is required there to continue the mission or complete the mission. and those judgements will have to be made over the next 23 months. what's needed, right, what is needed in terms of our counterterror efforts there. where is al qaeda. what is the threat. because the threat will have to derive whatever might be
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needed in terms of u.s. troops. where are the afghans in terms of their proling res, in terms of being able to provide for themselves that will dictate the kind of training and assistant mission that we have going forward. so these are decisions yet to be made. >> president karzai is year talking david cameron suggesting that it's bad policy to seek out terrorists in afghan villages, that's where they are. >> well, that's more complicated discussion. that we have to have with president karzai, i think it goes along these lines. the terrorist groups that we are focused on and on whom we would be focused over the long hall to the extent that they still present a threat are the transnational group, al qaeda and the groups associated with al qaeda who did 9/11. >> rose: right. >> and who have shown the intent and the ability to threaten the united states going forward. >> rose: dow consider the taliban among them. >> let me get that.
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we consider those groups, obviously a threat to the united states. they're the groups that we are in a conflict with, authorized by the authorization for use of military force by the congress and those are the groups against which we run our efforts primarily around, in afghanistan. in south asia, and in other parts of the world. that's the focus of the united states effort because those are the groups that threaten the united states. what president karzai is saying and we are moving to implement that decisions, in support of this, he is saying that afghans should provide for the core security in afghanistan. that they should be in the lead focused against the insurgency which threatens the afghan government. that's the taliban. >> right. >> and but that's what we're training in supporting and resourcing the afghans to do. and so very importantly,
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this may, may of 2013, 2013, the mission, the focus of the u.s. forces and the isap forces, the international forces working with the united states will change. and as of may of 2013, these forces, our forces will step back, charlie, and will go into a support mode and the afghans will be fully in the lead across. >> and they are prepared to do that. >> well, we are-- we hope so. we're going to support them. and here's the key to this. afghanistan fighting is seen in fighting seasons, there's not a lot of fighting during the winter months because of the weather. and the afghan fighting season is essentially between the spring and the early to mid fall. basically between may and october, depending on the weather, may and november. what i think is important about the move we're making here is that we pull back, they go forward, and they're going to fight in the lead
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for two full fighting seasons, through the whole fighting season 2013, through the whole fighting season 2014 which will give them the experience and give us the experience of knowing what their needs are, how they're doing, where we need to do things better. >> all right. >> it's a very sound, i think it's a very sound approach and we've done it in close consultation with president karzai. >> let me talk about syria. where are we? because we now know that the leader of the free syrian forces has agreed what with respect to assad to meet him? to negotiate with him? to what? >> well, first of all, let me step back. its-- it's a tragic situation in syria. rdz 60,000 people and counting. >> and the decisions that president assad has made have been horrific. he is responsible for what has happened in his country. he has been offered a way forward towards a political transition, as was done in
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other places like yemen, for example. and he has rejected that. and his determination to hold on to power at all costs has turned out to be, as i said, a terrible tragedy for the syrian people, for the region. it is a tragedy, charlie, because it is a country with a rich heritage and you see, you see the destruction of places like aleppo and the covered market in aleppo which has been there for hundreds and hundreds of years. the country is just being torn apart and the responsibility rests with assad. >> but the same time because of the way that has unfolded over time, they're more and more groups flowing in to participate in that war against him who are not necessarily friends of the united states. and in fact in some cases are not. >> and this has been one of the things, one of the principal things that the united states has been deeply concerned about from the outset, it is what we've laid out to the russian, for example, from the outset
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here. you asked about the head of the syrian opposition council. >> right. >> he indicated that he would be willing to meet with representatives of the government in order to try to find a political way forward. the position of the united states is that we seek an end to the violence and we seek a political transition in syria, among syrians. where the opposition and the government transition to an interim government and work forward. but it has been, because of assad's intransigence it has not been able to be achieved. we support brahimi's efforts, the u.n. representative trying to put this together. >> rose: president assad seems to have dismissed that recently. >> what's going happen here is this, is that in our judgement, assad will not and cannot last. his intransigence has just caused more loss of life and damage to his country. if you look at it as i do every morning, the situation on the ground in syria, the
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opposition that has continued to gain ground, this is a regime that is becoming less and less financially viable. it's a regime that sees whole parts of its country going over to the opposition. it's a regime that has become isolated in the world. there's 90 members of the friends of syria group putting pressure on syria. and ultimately this regime will fall. but you point out the real dangers here. and the dangers are these. the longer this takes, the more likely you have a scenario where you have a fragmented country. and we, and i don't think anybody really wants to see that. but that's a real danger. number two, the longer this goes on, the more there is a magnetic affect of the most extreme groups to come in an join the fight. and that's what's happening in syria right now. and after we get through the assad regime and move to the next stage which will be a political stage, we hope, dealing with those groups is
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going to be a real challenge going forward. and it's a general challenge in the region. >> is he prepared to use chemical weapons? >> to date, to date we have, we keep a very close eye on the chemical weapons. and that is a concern going forward too. because if you move towards chaos, and by the way our assessment today just to be direct with you is that the government continues to make control over those chemical weapons. but going forward, if you have a complete breakdown,s this's a real danger. the opposition groups have indicated to us that their intent once they take over to treat these weapons in a responsibility way and indeed i think what would happen going forward is you would want to see an international group come in and help with the maintenance of those weapons. we keep a close eye on this, we do con singee-- contingency planning with respect to chemical weapons in syria. it's one of the real dangers going forward and it's why we bring this to an end
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sooner rather than later in everybody's interests. >> many people including former secretary kitsinger, former secretary baker have said what's necessary for there to be some, you know, participation by russia and the united states and other neighbors in bringing these parties together to talk, provide a kind of structure for that. is that taking place in any way. >> they haven't been willing to say that assad stepping down is inevitable and needs to occur at the beginning. and you know it has to be that way in order for this to have a political solution. >> so how can the opposition meet with assad with all the blood on his hands. >> yeah. >> how possibly can they do that. >> so that is a nonstarter that the opposition will meet with assad but they might meet with representatives. >> i think what al chatib said who is the head of the syrian opposition council that they would be willing to meet with representatives of the government going forward here. now your point, the right way forward here would be to have an international umbrella group that would sponsor a political
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transition. we put this together at geneva last june, secretary clinton did, which mandated or agreed that there would be a political transition, that there would be opposition and government members of that transition and that the makeup would have to be mutually agreed to. of course it going to be mutually agreed to, you know the opposition would not have had assad going in this going forward that is where the breakdown of the russians has taken place. we continue to engage with them, meet with them regularly, we have not come to an agreement on a political way forward here. i hope we can do that. >> in the near term. >> well, i think the sooner the better as i said. now during the course of this year, the president will have the opportunity to meet with president putin on a number of occasions beginning this spring. >> but aren't you going to see putin soon wince i think i will visit russia in the next month. >> and see putin. >> yes. >> what do you want to come out of that and did you reset the relationship so that it's more likely that you can have, because if you have good big power
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understanding it gives you more leverage to deal with the other property. >> i totally agree with that. i think that the strategic, one of the strategic principleses that the president and the obama administration brought at the outset of our first term is that with constructive and productive great power relationships you can get a lot done in the world. and if they go off the track it is much more difficult and frankly we've seen it, that proposition that you just laid out has been proven i think in the context where. there has been cooperation, we have gotten a lot done with great power of corporate raise and we can talk about that in terms of iran and other places in afghanistan. on the reset. you asked a question directly. he did the reset work. in the first term if you look at the list of things you are able to accomplish. we have had a change of leadership in russia. we will get that in a secretary. we have been able to accomplish, really, through great power negotiation, and great power, productive and constructive relationship, we have a new start treaty
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in the arms control area which will -- >> what's the status of that. >> the status this. the status it has gone into effect and is being implemented and being implemented smoothly in russia. and what that will provide is a reduction with a top number for deployed strategic warheads to 1550. that's the lowest number since the mid 1950s, first. second, we have been able with respect to economics to work with the russians on the access to the wto and our congress passed a permanent normal trade relationships with russia which will provide more opportunity for united states companies in russia. right now it's very underperforming at this point. i think we have a very small economic relationship which could and should be expanded. >> right. >> third very importantly, on counterterrorism in afghanistan, the russians have been a very coop rattive with the united states in terms of our so-called northern distribution network and that is the supply lines, charlie, into afghanistan to
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support our 66,000 troops there, and we have been working closely with the russians on this since the outset of the obama administration. it has been very, very important. iran, the russians have worked with us very closely with respect to continuing and increasing the pressure on iran with respect to their nuclear program. >> rose: but are they still providing things for the iranians to build their nuclear, what they consider peaceful facilities? facilities devoted to peaceful production. >> the russians. >> of uranium. >> well, not production of-- you mean in terms of the production of nuclear reactors. >> yeah, they have contracts with iran with respect to that. with respect to the nuclear program that we are most concerned about, the russians have been a very close partner in terms of pressuring the iranians on the economic sanctions piece. now going forward which i think is where you wanted to get, with respect to president putin there was a lot of anti-american rhetoric during the course of the campaign. and there have been some actions taken by the russian government with which we disagreed.
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>> including adoption. >> including an adoptions and the role of our ngos and our aid mission and things like this. we have to sit down and talk with the russians about this and talk about the character and content of the relationship going forward. because you are absolutely right. a constructive and product oif relationship will mean that we can get a lot done in the world. a relationship that is not constructive and productive will mean that we will have issues and we have issues i think on a number of things go going forward that said i think we do have important conversations with the russians on security. and on what is in the future here in terms of potential arms reductions. the president's committed to hising pro a prague agenda. the speech he gave in prague in 2009 committing to us lower this world's reliance on nuclear weapons and further reductions in concert with the russians if possible, as part of that agenda. >> rose: so iran can be they
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can be he nor musely helpful and back to syria they can be helpful. give me some sense of the time frame in syria. because hi a cbs news correspondent here recently who has been in syria saying, you know, sometimes she believes it's approaching a stalemate. you are suggesting that's not true. that the rebel forces are winning and assad is losing, not withstanding what happened in aleppo when they go in an come back and all of the kinds of give-and-take of this kind of war. >> well, it's become a full-fledged internal conflict. >> civil. >> even though the forces are from outside in part. >> in part they are from outside because of the attraction of the most extreme forces coming in. >> right. >> i don't think anybody can tell you what the time frame is here. for a resolution. >> rose: who's talking to assad. i mean brahimi is not successful. he's acknowledged that. >> i think that is correct.
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i think the people talking to assad and it is a-- it's an important inside into where that regime stands. here are the people talking to assad. the iranians, why. >> rose: is that helpful? >> well, no, not to date it hasn't been helpful at all. why is that. because the iranians see the fall of the assad regime as the fall of the one state ally they have in the region. iran at this point they look around at their circumstances, iran sees that they have a relationship with syria, maybe the only state with whom they have a close relationship that they can call an alliance kind of relationship. and they have a relationship with hezbollah. >> rose: syria is part of that link to give them an opportunity to get to hezbollah and lebanon. >> exactly. so who is assad talking to. he's talking to the iranians who have been all in, charlie. they have been all in trying to preserve this regime because they know at the end of the day the fall of that
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regime is a strategic blow to iran. he's talken to hezbollah because they have had this close relationship with him and hezbollah knows that the fall of the assad regime will cut off the, as you said, the principal thruway between iran and hezbollah and lebanon. that is the team this is talking to assad. they all have their interest in seeing him stay in power an they're doing everything they can to keep them in power. >> let me turn to egypt. i will turn to iran first because we've been talking about iran. the vice president said and munich, that we are prepared to have bilateral conversations. is that new? and what are the implications. >> that's not new. the united states position on iran from the outset of the administration has been that we aim to prevent our goal and our intention is to, and we will, prevent iran from acquiring a nuclear
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weapon. that is the focus of our policy, period. point one. point two is from the outset of the administration we along with the chinese, the russians and other applies determine-- allies determined that we would undertake an outreach effort to the iranians and offer them a choice. the choice would be you can come to the table in a bona fide way and you can resolve or attempt to resolve the concerns that the international community has about your nuclear program and if are you prepared to do that, we're prepared to sit down with you. if you are's not prepared to do that, then we are going to undertake a pressure campaign. we are going to undertake to isolate you politically and we'll undertake to isolate you economically, to force-- . >> rose: we're trying to do that already. we're not prepared to do that, we're doing that. that is part of our strategy. >> at the beginning, i'm talking about, at the beginning in 2009. and we made bona fide offer its to the iranians to sit down. the iranians were not prepared to take us occupy continue. a lot happened including their elections in 2009 which caused the supreme leaders in iran to focus on
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maintaining its own legitimacy in iran but have not been prepared to come to the table to move this forward that is the first point. >> rose: so what happened. >> what you just said is that the united states and russia, china and the rest flted of the world determined that because they agree that the goal should be to prevent iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, engaged in an unprecedented series of sanctions, the iranian economy today as a result is crumbling. the inflation rate is probably 40%. the official rate is 27, 28%. they have had a reduction, charlie, in terms of the number of barrels a day that they are producing and export og in oil by half. they have probably reduced their oil revenue its by 50%. high unemployment. the currency is in collapse. for what? this is poor choices by the iranian leadership. and the question presented now is whether or not the supreme leaders office, because you'll see comments
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from minister-- at munich that they were prepared to meet. and indeed they say they're prepared to meet in kazakhstan. >> rose: and they say they have no plans to have a nuclear program. and help me understand this because leone panetta the secretary of defense, retiring secretary of defense was on television over the weekend saying that we do not believe a decision has been made by the iranians to develop a nuclear weapon. >> yeah. >> rose: that's exactly what he said. we do not know that they have made a decision to develop a nuclear weapon. >> but regardless of whether they have made a decision to do this, we have to assume, right, for purposes of our effort, that we need to force a choice to force them to prove to the world that they have made, that they have made a decision not to develop a nuclear weapon. that they can set the nuclear account with the international community. and the choice rests with the spleem leader of iran. you have statements by their foreign minister, saying that they are willing to sit down and have these discussion am you have statement by their president,
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ahmadinejad. at the end of the day our assessment is that these decisions will be made by the supreme leader. he has to make a choice as to whether or not he is going to engage in a serious discussion and make the kinds of concessions that will need to be made, the kinds of understanding as that will need to be made by the international community to show you what just said to. show that they are not pursuing a nuclear weapon. or he is going to face continued economic pressure and pressure that will not stop, pressure is actually going to be increased this week on february 6th which is this wednesday. additional sanctions put on the iranians. and that really, the onus it very important to understand. the onus is right there. it's the question about whether or not the supreme lead kerr make the strategic decision to allow his country to come into the 21st century, to allow his country to be able to engage in normal commerce with the rest of the world to. allow his country to be used a legitimate banking system as opposed to having to sneak around. >> rose: fair enough. but dow believe they'll make a rational decision about
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this, and if, in fact, the economic pressure, the isolation, the impoverishment of their people is hurting them so much that they are prepared to make a rational decision, this ain't worth it. >> well, this is the focus of foreign policy, right. you execute these policies on the assumption that countries will make rational decisions. >> rose: but you believe that about the iranians, that in the end the ayatollah will do what is in the best interest. >> we'll have to see. the reason i press this is because we'll see what kind of information he gets. we'll see what kind of decision he can make. we'll see whether he has the confidence to make this kind of decision, again to bring this country peacefully into the 21st century. if he makes that decision, that door is open to the iranians. if he can't make that decision, or he miscalculates then they're heading that country is heading towards an unpleasant path. they'll be continued isolation and again with respect, with respect to preventing iran from
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acquiring a nuclear weapon, as the president has said many times, all our options are on the table. >> he said we don't believe in containment. we're to the going allow them to have a nuclear weapon. and that they should believe that he's prepared to use whatever means necessary am. >> the policy of the united states ask to prevent iran from acquiring nuclear weapon. containment is not the policy of the united states and that the president has all options available for him on the table to do what is necessary to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons. we, this very important to say. you obviously don't hope for these kinds of outcomes. you hope for a rational outcome which would allow the iranians to come into the 21st century and engage in a legitimate economy and to engage in the kind of commerce with the world generally that that country should want to engage in. but again, it shouldn't be any doubt that this president charlie has a pretty good record of doing what he says he's going to do.
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>> rose: ehud barak made some news although i didn't understand why it would be different from what you would expect a nation to do, that the united states had prepared blueprints for an attack on iran if necessary. you would assume that they would always have blueprints for attacks anywhere there might be an issue of our national security. >> i can't really comment on that. but all i can say is that we are open to a negotiation. but that's not without limit. and we hope the iranians make a choice. a rational choice for them and their people to come into the 21st century peacefully. >> rose: you remember famously that benjamin netanyahu recently had an election himself. things did not go as well as he hoped, came from the united nations and talked about a red line. do we have a red line? >> well, the red line that the united states has, the united states will not-- aims to prevent iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon reasons acquiring a nuclear weapon or nuclear capacity. >> well, that's a debate that you can have kind of in
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a metaphysical way. >> if they have capacity they can do it. >> yeah, it's not going to make -- >> it would take a year. >> but it would fake a year or-to-to have the missiles to deliver them too. >> the time line, i don't want to get into. but it, this is very serious security issue. i will tell you that this is the issue that i have probably spent the most time on with national security advisor. >> iran. >> nuclear weapons. >> yes. and that you know that's among a pretty long list of things that we work on every day. >> henry kissinger said it is our most important pressing security issue. >> it is an absolute. >> that you consider the most important pressing foreign policy issue as henry kissinger said. >> there are a number of pressing security issues that we have. but i would have to say in all seriousness that dr. kissinger is correct. it's a very important security issue that we have to face. and one as i said we work on every day in concert.
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>> what is the chance that egypt will fall apart and the streets are full of people who are have not gone home. the temperature of the pressure of the protest seems to be rising. what's going to happen and what are the possibilities and what are our options. >> the president morsi's government has a number of challenges. the egyptian revolution occurred because the egyptian people wanted to have a response oif government that would deal with the problems that they faced every day in terms of their economic future, and would allow them the space to participate politically to try to decide that future. so the morsi government, president morsi's government has a number of challenges. it has an economic challenge. and it is absolutely critical this is a country of almost 90 million people. it is a largest arab country. >> rose: largest standing army. >> very large standing army,
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and it has to deal with its economic issues and we have been pressing the egyptians to move to make arrangements with the imf which is willing to make these arrangements to support that government's economic situation. they need to do that. they need to pov fooferd and take the aid that the international community is willing to provide them including the united states, to stand up this economy. it has political challenges and it's interesting, in their multidimensional. the morsi government faces pressure from the right, it faces pressure from the left in the secular groups, and it needs to be able to forge the kind of political dialogue to bring an eck i will-- equilibrium of stability. those really are president morsi's challenges and they are under tremendous pressure from the united states perspective. president obama and morsi have had good interactions and indeed have gotten a number of things done including the gaza, played a
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very important role. >> and sealed that arrangement. and president obama has worked with president morsi ton. >> do we have less leverage, some people argue that one of the problems we face is we have less leverage with islamic governments. >> well, these governments it's more complex. the deal here of course iss that it's not about just having a relationship with the single person or a single group of people in a country within as we've had before with people who ruled by -- >> who ruled for decades and ruled in author tearian systems, that's changed. and so this is a new challenge, a first impression for the united states that the united states has to deal with islamic governments, right, who have been democratically elected and in countries where there are a multitude of stakeholders. and this is a new circumstances for the united statesment now the united states in north africa including in egypt but in north africa generally faces
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a security situation which is something, mike rogers, the chairman of the house intelligence community wrote a piece in plirtco today calling for a comprehensive strategy and he's right to deal with the counterterrorism issues that are arising in north africa, what do they arise from, after at rab revolutions and we had multiple simultaneous revolutions rooted in the histories of these countries, different country to country, but at the core rooted in three things, i think, governments that weren't performing, that letdown their people, a communications revolution both internally and externally, people could communicate internally and organize themselves but they also knew what was going on in the outside world. you could no longer tell your people you've got it great here. they know that's not true because they can communicate with the outside world. and you had demographic pressures, a youth -- in these countries. >> rose: many of them unemployment dorb --
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unemployed which provided a great seed of discontent. >> exactly. and the fear went a watch the fear of the regimes went away and you had the explosion of the arab spring, multiple simultaneous revolutions in the region watch. does that mean forth united states? looking back on if now, 24, 25, 26 months, there is a real security issues that have arisen here that are evolving that we have to address. >> rose: define them. >> we have porous borders. we have a proliferation of weapons that have arisen out of the breakdown of these governments, especially from libya. we have. >> rose: in fact some of the libyan islamists have gone to mali. >> they have, right. >> and we have-- they were from there originally and have gone back to mali but with weapons. >> you have less counterterrorism pressure on them, because these governments have changed over, and the counterterrorism forces aren't as experienced.
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they don't have the same kinds of laws that were in place before. we're having to reestablish relationships with them. and you have these groups being networked in some of them now claiming al qaeda, al qaeda connections. and all of this combines, and last, to, you have an expanding amount of ungoverned space. and we talked about ungoverned space a little bit when we talked about afghanistan, where a group is ability with impunity or without pressure to train, plan, recruit extremists to engage in operations in that region and around the world. that's exceedingly dangerous. and what we have to do is to address this and it has to be address comprehensively and it's going to take an intensive effort over an extended period of time i think. what does it mean. >> go ahead. >> i think what it means is first and foremost we need to understand the situation
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and work to protect our embassies and our people in the region. and of course a lot of this arises out of the lessons learned from benghazi. that the secretary chrn ton talked about at the hearing before she left office. at the hearings before she left office. and the president is absolutely devoted to insurancing that we do everything we can to harden those assets, to develop the kinds of intelligence we need to spot threats to those. >> rose: based on the recommendations paid by melon and pickering. >> absolutely. and to do all that, right. the second thing we have to do is to work very diligently to work with partnerships with these new governments on counterterrorism. to build up their capacities to deal with these groups because they're not just a threat to the united states. they're a threat to those governments and those people. as you saw, by the way, in algeria, at the bp gas plant incident. >> what did we see there because i've talked to the survivors in an upcoming "60 minutes" piece on sunday.
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what did we learn there, you think. >> what we learned is this. it was a kind of a culmination of all the factors that we talked about a minute ago, porous borders. these guys coming across the border from libya. proliferation of weapons, heavy weapons, right. networking. groups, that group had people from i think probably four or five, maybe six countries involved in this and. >> the terrorists within the terrorist group and it pointed to the challenge of these ungoverned spaces where they were able for several months to plot, plan, train to do this. this is the challenge. that we face in this region it will require all the things that i talked about. better border control. hardening the embassies. by the way, also hardened so-called nongovernmental soft targets like plants and other kinds of arrangements there.
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and mutting, developing ca passit ot put pressure on these groups. and in some cases direct action watch. i do mean by that, by partners, you see that kind of direct action that the french undertook in mali. >> will the french be able to sustain that? i mean iran has been up front, made quick decision and made a difference but can they -- >> the unit states fully supports their efforts. >> rose: with what. >> let me start from the beginning. the united states fully supports the french effort to push back the terroris terrorist-- terrorist rebel groups in mali. they made a timely decision to go in when they saw these groups were moving south from northern mali down to southern mali, perhaps even threatening the capitol. >> rose: a little with ghana and libya. >> really. >> rose: the french came in made a decision early to do something to stop qaddafi from destroying-- ultimate -- >> ultimately that was a
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nato decision. but this was a french national action. >> rose: without anybody else. >> without anybody else joining them am now they are working to have other african nations join them and they have been successful with that. some groups from chad. and elsewhere in the region to join them in this effort. the first point is that we support this effort to push back these oom quitea related groups and not allow them to have safe havens, to take over the government of mali. second, is that we have supported them how we supported the french in terms of intelligence, in sharing intelligence, very important, we have srt spoed the french in terms of providing lift, that is moving personnel and material from france into the region. we supported the french in terms of planning and supported the french in terms of air to air refueling of their operations over mali. you asked can they sustain it. the idea i think here that
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the french have and i think it's a right idea is this, they in a number of as i said they have a number of african troops working with them, came in, pushed the extremists back, took over the key town between south and north mali, timbuktu, and pushed further into northern mali. what will have to happen here charlie is i think that then will you have to have african troops come in and provide stable of long-term forces. the french shouldn't be required. >> and you think the africans may be prepared to do that. >> i think they are. >> and in the u.n., probably should be will organizing umbrella for this operation. >> the big question here is their estate in africa that is likely to become a failed state and a haven for al qaeda and associated or inspired similar groups. >> yeah. i think that mali was a place where that could have happened. the french action supported by the united states and others, by the way, but as
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the president has said, we fully support the decision by president allan and they deserve credit for making that decision. they saw the decision was happening and they went to deal with it. that's one place where i think you could have had that. i think if you go, i think actually, you know, there's obviously ungoverned places in lib ya, although they are making progress, david cameron the prime minister of great britain was in libya last week talking about the support that the united kingdom and others are going to provide in erm it is of security. the challenge for the libyan government of course is to bring these various groups underneath the state and that's a real security challenge. but there could be parts of libya that we worry about where the state won't have authority. particularly in eastern and southern libya. and those are real challenges. and we have to work on capacity building and we have to watch this closely. what i do mean by that. if the state doesn't have authority these are the
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ungoverned spaces where terrorist groups can train, organize, plot, plan and execute these operations against facilities and people in the region and perhaps beyond the region. that is the challenge. the challenge is to get the capacity organized, to put the pressure on these groups now so that they don't become the next oom quitea in terms-- al quite in terms of operating beyond the region. >> as in afghanistan. >> exactly so at the end of this hour, one i will say before, before we are out of time, i haven't mentioned and we should, it's a significant part of the first four years of the administration was looking at where and how to deploy american military, it took on larger role, a certain kind of role and that caused consideration of military policy and what's effective and on the front lead to a pivot, we will talk about that in the next hour that
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you and i can discuss, china and looking east and what are the tants and how important is trade and how important is the relationship with china in terms of all that that means in the 2 1st century. but i want to come to these summing up here. what dow believe is the most important contribution of secretary clinton. >> he made a number of contributions but let's go to three or four right away. one is that the principal strategic challenge that the united states had in the beginning of 2009 at the president obama's mad wartion was to restore the power, prestige and authority of the united states around the world. we had gone through, and this not a partisan comment but we had gone through an exhausting period of foreign policy in the eight year, seven years leading up to that. and it was essential for the country if we were going to
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pursue our interests and the projects we need to do going forward that we restore american prestige, power as and authority in the world and she was essential to that through tireless effort, working with leaders and with people around the world, really did restore u.s. prestige, power and authority in the world and reestablished the united states i think in a lot of places in the world as a leader. second, secretary clinton was a tireless advocate for restoring economic power for the united states. and her working on economic state craft, her commercial diplomacy, her really turning the state department and focus toward economics was really critical. third, the state department modernized under secretary clinton, really came into the digital age in terms of the techniques it used for diplomacy using all of the social media aspects that she could press.
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and she really did kind of revolutionize the way that the state department, the state department operated. fourth, she is essential in terms of a number of the hard security issues around the world. very active in terms of efforts in south asia. >> did she happen to be in china at a time when things got dicey over there. >> that-- secretary current ton was essential to our rebalancing our efforts in the world. the president and she asked the question of the administration where are we overinvested and where are we underinvested where. do we have our assets underutilized. where are we missing in the world. and she and the president made the decision that the united states was dramatically underinvested in asia. >> rose: and overinvested in the middle east. >> overinvested certainly in terms of our military efforts in the middle east. absolutely. and that it was going to be, in order to get the freedom of maneuver to reinvest in
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these places in the world that are really about the future of the world, and the future for u.s. interests, we needed to draw down these military, the military face of foreign policy in iraq and get on that path in afghanistan and reinvest tremendously in asia. secretary clinton's first trip as secretary of state was to asia. that's the first time a secretary of state has taken his or her first trip to asia since dean rusk in 1961. and from then on she just kept on pushing our efforts and our efforts in asia. you look at her work with as on. you look at her work on the south china sea. you look at her work with burma in terms of bringing burma not community of democracy, potentially. right? that's a good list of contributions. >> tom donilon national security advisor to president obama as they enter the second four years of that tenure in the white house. thank you for joining us. see you next time.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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>> announcer: the following kqed production was produced in high definition. ♪ >> must have soup. >> the pancake is to die for! [ laughter ] >> it was a gut bomb, but i liked it. in private moments about the food i had.
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>> i didn't like it. >> you didn't like it? oh, okay. >> dining here makes me feel rich. >> and what about dessert? pecan pie? sweet-potato pie?


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